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Brian Kelly's salary ignites criticism from La. public service commissioner

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BATON ROUGE - Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell is speaking out about the big salary that LSU's new football coach is getting paid.

"It's crazy. It's absolutely crazy for a poor state like Louisiana to hold the distinction of having the highest-paid coach in America," Campbell said.

Head coach Brian Kelly signed a 10-year contract and will make $9 million in his first year; $9.2 million in the following two years and the yearly salary grows every couple of years until he's making $10 million for his final year.

Long-time Tiger fan Jerred Bellina of Prairieville says it takes the top dollar to compete in a conference like the SEC.

"To bring the talent, to get the coaching in, to get the kids to LSU. We pay for that talent," Bellina said.

Campbell also points out that Kelly is getting paid more than many coaches in the NFL.

"We're going to pay more for a coach than the New Orleans Saints, three times as much as the Dallas Cowboys," Campbell said.

"Hey, you're in the SEC, bigger than the NFL," Tiger fan Philip Prescott of Ascension Parish said.

Even though Prescott supports Kelly's hire, he still says the coach has to prove himself.

"I don't have a problem with what they are paying him. Let's see if he can earn it." Prescott said.

Even though private donors, not the university, are paying the vast majority of the new coach's salary, Campbell says it is still not right for high-dollar contributors to put sports over education.

"They've got wrong priorities here. They're putting LSU football above LSU academics," Campbell said.

Campbell says he would much rather see the donors raising millions of dollars to attract the best professors in the county, not just building athletic programs.

"Get some of the best academic professors in the United States and pay the ones you've got," Campbell said.

The commissioner also said it's not just LSU, but many universities put sports before academics when it comes to donor funding.


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